16,000 black market Chinese cigarettes seized in Haringey raid

Warning over danger to public health as illicit tobacco products worth £11,000 taken off streets

A raid on a suspected illicit tobacco factory has led to 16,000 illegal Chinese cigarettes and almost 12 kilos of loose leaf tobacco being taken off the streets of Haringey.

The borough’s trading standards officers and police swooped on a house and seized a sizeable haul of dangerous counterfeit tobacco products with a street value of £11,000, the Broadway can reveal.

The seizure has prompted an appeal for the public to be wary of the dangers of cheap fake tobacco.

Trading standards officer Doug Love, who was on the raid, said: “This was a decent sized haul. But any amount of enforcement will not really dent the actual sales.

“What’s got to happen is for people to be persuaded that it’s not worth buying illicit tobacco and in that way reduce the demand.”

Haringey trading standards joined colleagues from Islington on the raid and confiscated a sizable quantity of illicit tobacco at a house in Tottenham on October 28.

It came after an eagle-eyed Islington trading standards officer saw a woman attempting to sell tobacco from a shopping trolley and council officers secured a warrant for the raid.

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They seized 8.5kg of hand-rolling tobacco in Amber Leaf or Golden Virginia branded pouches, a black bin liner stuffed with 3.5kilos of loose leaf tobacco and 830 packets of Hongtashan and Septwolves Chinese cigarettes.

Officers also confiscated fake tax duty stamps for the Benelux region, covering Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, a heat-sealing machine used on cellophane packets, a set of scales, and various tobacco packaging.

Three people were arrested and one woman has been bailed to return in December. No further action will be taken against the other two men.

Trading standards officers have warned the public not to buy illicit tobacco products.

Fake cigarettes are sometimes laced with lethal heavy metals like arsenic, while clever copies of main stream brands such as Benson & Hedges and Marlboro, known as “illicit whites”, are completely unregulated.

Counterfeit or smuggled cigarettes also do not conform to EU safety standards and pose significant fire risks as they do not extinguish automatically if you stop smoking them.

“A tiny, tiny percentage of illicit tobacco will be a fella bringing a load back from Poland or Belgium and selling it on his own,” said Mr Love. “The vast majority of this is organised crime and obviously it funds other crimes.”